Joint Communique Following Discussions With President-elect Jose Napoleon Duarte of El Salvador

May 21, 1984

President Ronald Reagan and President-elect Jose Napoleon Duarte have undertaken consultations together, May 21, 1984, in recognition that a new chapter in the history of El Salvador as a democratic nation is about to be enacted.

During the past three years, Salvadorans of widely differing political views have joined together in a process of building democracy which has moved successfully through the stages of elections for a constituent assembly in March 1982, approval of a new constitution and the presidential elections, just completed. The United States applauds this historic process and proudly welcomes President-elect Duarte as the first freely and directly elected leader of democratic El Salvador.

The two Presidents, having reviewed the problems of Central America, which are of concern to free people throughout our hemisphere, hereby express their joint views and conclusions regarding the future basis of understanding and collaboration between their two nations. We agree on three major objectives for Central America and El Salvador:

1. The strengthening of democratic institutions;

2. The improvement of living standards and expanded economic development;

3. The need for an increased level of U.S. assistance to obtain peace and to defend against Communist-supported guerrillas of the extreme left and the violence of the extreme right.

The peoples of both nations look forward to the coming five year term of elected government in El Salvador as a period of consolidation of bilateral relations in a spirit of deep friendship as close neighbors in our hemisphere. Both nations will take into account their common interests and problems, maintaining the fullest respect for each other's sovereignty.

Both nations share with other countries of the Americas a fundamental interest in the strengthening of democracy and the firm rejection in this hemisphere of any form of totalitarianism or outside interference in the affairs of sovereign nations. Democracy enhances their individual and collective security. Democratic neighbors are peaceful neighbors, capable of regulating their relations in a framework of cooperation, consultation, mutual respect and peaceful settlement of differences.

It is a fundamental objective of the Duarte administration to broaden and strengthen El Salvador's democratic institutions. And it is the intention of the United States to provide support and assistance to help achieve that objective.

Both Presidents proclaim that democracy, justice and the rule of law require the participation and commitment of all sectors in the political and economic mainstream of the nation. The rule of law requires protection for all against violence and criminal actions. It requires full confidence that the judicial process will produce punishment of the guilty and timely justice with due process for all. Both Presidents reaffirm their staunch commitment to the promotion of human rights, which are central to the democratic process and our freedoms. They believe that there should be greater support for genuinely democratic organizations from public and private sources in the major democracies, such as in the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy.

The two Presidents pledge to work for the achievement of economic development and growth, and increased regional cooperation, to improve the standard of living of the people of El Salvador and throughout the hemisphere. President-elect Duarte joins President Reagan in support of the comprehensive legislative proposal now before the U.S. Congress which will contribute so greatly, once enacted, to Central American peace and prosperity. The two Presidents express the view that a continuing and healthy economic assistance relationship between the two countries will be needed over the years immediately ahead. Such a relationship will complement broader initiatives, such as the Caribbean Basin Initiative and the National Bipartisan Commission Report, so that El Salvador's interdependent economic and social objectives can be met.

The protection and promotion of a strong private sector, with opportunities for small, medium and large entrepreneurs, is an indispensable means of expanding wealth and creating employment. Close collaboration between the public and private sectors will enhance the revitalization of production, improvement in public health and education, reintegration of displaced persons, and national reconstruction. This collaboration is a basis for stimulating domestic confidence, ensuring access to international credit and attracting new international investment.

The consolidation of democracy requires social peace and the protection and improvement of basic reforms begun in El Salvador in the 1980's, including the finding of new ways to stimulate production, ensure clear titles to land, pay adequate compensation and guarantee land reform beneficiaries permanence and tranquility in their new ownership.

Democracy cannot survive or thrive without security. Military assistance and the existence of a strong well-equipped national armed force is essential to shield democratic development. All governments have the obligation to guarantee their peoples full political participation and must have the means to protect democratic institutions against those who would subvert them, be they marxist guerrillas and their external allies or violent internal extremist groups.

The two Presidents share the view that the armed conflict in El Salvador must be resolved through national reconciliation based on the full integration of all its people into the political processes of the country. This participation should take place within the democratic rule which establishes that the only access to power is in accordance with the will of the people expressed through free elections. They particularly welcome the efforts to achieve regional peace undertaken within the Contadora process and reaffirm their full commitment to the principles of the Contadora Document of Objectives.

The two Presidents reaffirm strongly that abandonment of El Salvador and Central America in the midst of a continuing armed struggle serves neither the interests of their two nations, nor those of the community of free countries. They support the development of strong democracies in all parts of Central America, the democratic forces in Nicaragua, and the objective of holding free, fair and democratic elections in each of the countries of the region. On the basis of common national interests and common belief in the principles of democracy and freedom, they pledge to work together toward peace with security and toward human betterment with freedom, for El Salvador and for all of Central America.

To achieve these objectives, the two Presidents have decided to maintain regular and frequent contact to carry out these joint principles, assuring that their relations are guided by considerations of dignity, equality, friendship and mutual respect.

Note: President Reagan met with President-elect Duarte in the morning in the Oval Office at the White House.